Tunes of the Times: Paving Paradise

March 22, 2016

Contrary to the belief of many, environmental issues have significantly worsened in past decades. The availability of freshwater has decreased and average global temperatures have increased. People are not fully aware of the extreme dangers that climate change poses – it does not solely mean that summers might be hotter and winters colder than usual. Climate change holds vast implications.

Several countries have experienced either severe droughts or abundant amounts of rainfall. Uneven distribution of rain has put places like Colorado, California and even Florida at risk of freshwater shortage. As the atmosphere warms as a result of climate change, the water cycle is affected. Reduced rainfall affects the flow of water in watersheds and the quality of aquatic and marine environments with important impacts to water quality and food chain.

Food security is also deeply affected. Changes in climate have already impacted the agricultural productivity of some staple crops. Continued climate change with higher temperatures tends to further impact agriculture yields while reduced rainfall could affect the quality of the food produced.

Ziggy Marley, son of legendary Bob Marley, sings to the creatures of nature in his song “Dragonfly” and advocates for the ones that go unnoticed. His song helps awaken empathy and compassion towards nature when he sings, “I wonder how you’ll survive with the environment going down the drain.”

Earth’s naturally varying climate is superimposed by human-induced global warming, so temperatures will continue to rise and it will not be uniform or steady throughout different nations. Floridians are expected to suffer through year-long summer days and Bostonians, endless blizzards. NASA expects droughts in the southwest and heat waves to intensify and they also project that hurricane-associated storm intensity will increase. Global sea-levels have also begun to rise as a result of added water from the melting ice caps and the expansion of seawater as temperatures warms threatens places like Florida with the possibility of extensive flooding.

Leonardo DiCaprio took the initiative during his Academy Award acceptance speech in hopes of reaching out to his fans and emphasizing the dangers placed on the population. DiCaprio addressed the threat of climate change and urged his viewers to stop procrastinating and to take action. He supports those who fight “for our children and for those whose voices have been drowned by the politics of greed.” He paralleled his feelings toward the award placed in his hand to the feelings he has for the planet Earth.

Drake also took action in 2010 by touring with Green The Block, a campaign supporting a clean-energy economy in low-income areas, in order to lessen the tour’s negative impact on the planet. He rode out in biodiesel buses, recycled at his concert venues and invested in projects that helped the dirty energy burned during his shows.

According to NASA, humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by roughly 33 percent since the Industrial Revolution, which is one of the main causes of climate change. Some argue that the warming is caused by a more active sun but NASA states that scientists have observed a warming in the lower parts of the atmosphere but a cooling in the upper atmosphere due to the greenhouse gases that are trapping the heat in the lower atmospheric sections.

Michael Jackson let people hear and realize the pain and wounds of the planet, that is trying to compensate for man’s mismanagement, in “Earth Song.” He winded his way through war, peace and society’s naive attitude when it comes to environmental issues. Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” also comments on human tendencies to take things for granted and not realize them until they are gone. The line, “put away that DDT now, give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees,” refers to the insecticide that harmed worldwide crops during the Green Revolution. The deleterious effects of DDT pesticide, which is now banned in the United States, poisoned the birds (which ate insects and fish poisoned by the chemicals) and put several species in danger. Since then, pesticides have been altered so that they are less harmful. Mitchell alludes to the eager developers who long to cut down forests in hopes of building malls and other amenities and sings that they “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Leaders must take a more proactive role in promoting environmental protection, There must be a balance between industrial development, national security and environmental quality; it makes little sense to protect our people from neighboring countries if they are threatened by the very air they breath and the water they drink.

Former senator and vice president of the United States, Al Gore, is a notable advocate of conserving the environment. He has dedicated his political career since the early ‘80s to fighting climate change and promoting a secure and sustainable environment.

Lights will not turn off by themselves, bottles will not auto-recycle and trash will not self-clean. We must act. Whether you believe it or not, change is here; we are already living and feeling it. The threat must be taken seriously for the sake of humanity. We must stop hoping and start acting. Like John Mayer once sang, “We’re never gonna beat this if belief is what we’re fighting for.”

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